Repointing Brick


In this guide, we will delve into the intricate process of repointing brick, covering everything from understanding the importance of repointing to the step-by-step procedure and the tools required for the job.

Why Repointing Brick Matters

  • Preserving Structural Integrity: Over time, weather conditions and natural wear can cause the mortar between bricks to deteriorate. When mortar deteriorates, it can no longer support the bricks properly, leading to structural instability. Repointing reinforces the structural integrity of the brickwork, ensuring that the building remains stable and secure.Additionally, deteriorating mortar can allow moisture to seep into the walls, causing further damage. By repointing brick work, you create a watertight seal that prevents water from penetrating the building, thus protecting it from potential water damage.

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Assessment and Preparation

  • Inspecting the Mortar: Before beginning the repointing process, it’s essential to assess the condition of the existing mortar. Look for signs of deterioration such as crumbling or missing mortar, cracks, or gaps between bricks. Use a small tool like a screwdriver to gently probe the mortar joints and check for solidity.Tip: Pay particular attention to areas that are exposed to harsh weather conditions or are prone to moisture buildup, as these are often the first areas to deteriorate.
  • Cleaning the Joints: Proper preparation is crucial for successful repointing. Begin by thoroughly cleaning out the old mortar from between the bricks. You can use a variety of tools for this task, including a wire brush, chisel, or grinder, depending on the extent of the mortar deterioration.Tip: Be careful not to damage the surrounding bricks while removing the old mortar. Take your time and work systematically to ensure all loose or damaged mortar is removed.

Tools and Materials

  • Mortar Mix: When repointing brick work, it’s essential to use the correct type of mortar mix. The mortar should match the composition and strength of the existing mortar as closely as possible. Common types of mortar mix include Type N, Type S, and Type O, each with different properties suited for various applications.Tip: Consult with a local building supply store or a professional mason to determine the most appropriate mortar mix for your project.
  • Pointing Trowel and Jointing Tool: These tools are essential for applying and shaping the mortar during the repointing process. A pointing trowel is used to fill the mortar joints, while a jointing tool helps create a neat finish and ensures proper compaction of the mortar.Tip: Invest in high-quality tools to achieve better results and make the repointing process more manageable.
  • Safety Gear: Repointing brick work can create a significant amount of dust and debris, so it’s essential to wear appropriate safety gear. Safety goggles will protect your eyes from flying debris, while gloves will shield your hands from sharp edges and abrasive materials.Tip: Additionally, consider wearing a dust mask to prevent inhalation of dust particles and other airborne contaminants.

Step-by-Step Repointing Process

  • Preparing the Mortar: Once you’ve selected the appropriate mortar mix, it’s time to prepare it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Mix the mortar to the desired consistency, ensuring it is neither too dry nor too wet. A good rule of thumb is to aim for a peanut butter-like consistency that is easy to work with but not too runny.Tip: Start with small batches of mortar to avoid waste, and mix only as much as you can use within a reasonable amount of time.

Removing Old Mortar:

  • With the mortar prepared, begin removing the old mortar from between the bricks. Use a combination of tools such as a hammer and chisel, grinder, or mortar rake to carefully chip away at the old mortar. Take care not to damage the surrounding bricks or dislodge them from their position.Tip: Work methodically and systematically, focusing on one small section at a time to ensure thorough removal of the old mortar.
  • Applying New Mortar: Once the joints are cleaned out, it’s time to apply the new mortar. Load the mortar onto the pointing trowel and press it firmly into the joints, ensuring it fills the space completely. Use the jointing tool to shape and smooth the mortar, creating a neat and uniform finish.Tip: Work in small sections to prevent the mortar from drying out too quickly, and keep a sponge and clean water nearby to clean off any excess mortar from the bricks as you go.
  • Tooling and Finishing: After applying the mortar, use the jointing tool to create a concave shape in the mortar joints, known as a “weatherstruck” finish. This not only enhances the appearance of the brickwork but also helps to shed water away from the joints, preventing moisture buildup.Tip: Take your time with this step to achieve a professional-looking finish. Pay attention to detail and ensure that all joints are uniform in shape and depth.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

  • Using Improper Mortar Mix: Using the wrong type of mortar mix or failing to match the existing mortar can lead to issues down the line. Make sure to select a mortar mix that closely matches the composition and strength of the existing mortar to ensure compatibility and longevity.Tip: When in doubt, consult with a professional mason or building supply store for guidance on selecting the appropriate mortar mix.
  • Overfilling Joints: While it’s essential to fill the joints with enough mortar to create a strong bond, overfilling them can lead to unsightly bulges and potential damage to the surrounding bricks. Aim to fill the joints just below the surface of the bricks to create a smooth and flush finish.Tip: Use a pointing trowel or jointing tool to compact the mortar into the joints and remove any excess before it has a chance to dry.
  • Skipping Cleaning Steps: Proper preparation is key to successful repointing. Skipping the cleaning steps or failing to remove all the old mortar thoroughly can result in poor adhesion and a weak bond between the new mortar and the bricks.Tip: Take the time to clean out the joints properly before repointing, even if it means spending a little extra time on this step. It will pay off in the long run with a more durable and visually appealing result.

Aftercare and Maintenance

  • Curing the Mortar: Once the repointing is complete, it’s essential to allow the mortar to. Cure properly before subjecting it to any stress or moisture. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for curing time and conditions. Which typically involve keeping the mortar damp for a specified period to promote proper hydration and strength development.
  • Tip: Avoid exposing the newly repointed brickwork to heavy rain or freezing temperatures. During the curing process, as this can affect the quality and durability of the mortar.
  • Regular Inspections: To ensure the longevity of your repointed brickwork, conduct regular inspections to check for any signs of deterioration or damage. Pay attention to areas that are exposed to harsh weather conditions or are prone to moisture buildup, as these are often the first areas to show signs of wear.

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